I read an article on herfamily.ie during the week about how to prepare for breastfeeding, with top tips from a lactation consultant. I thought it was a good topic, and no doubt, any pregnant lady who is considering breast feeding would have clicked to read and taken something from it.
But, I thought they left a few recommendations out; simple tricks of the trade that could really make the difference between you continuing to feed your baby, or reach, reluctantly perhaps, for the formula. I hope the following tips may make some bit of difference to the success of your own breast feeding ‘journey’.
1) Be prepared, or be prepared to fail. By that, I mean rally the support long before the baby is born. Let your partner and family know you intend to breastfeed. Their reactions may vary from, “I’m not sure if you’ll be able to handle that,” (husband) to “mmmmmmm,” (mother). But, they’re the very ones who will bring you cups of tea or buy you breast pads, as they try to support you in your choice.
2) You will need the following tools: lanolin – a big tube, breast pads – disposable or washable, I went between the two depending on how sore I was feeling – cold cabbage leaves or a cold compress you can put in the fridge and multi-mam compresses – they are heaven.
3) I had no clue about nursing bras when I was pregnant. I seemed to be ever expanding in every way, so how the hell was I supposed to GUESS my bra size for after the baby was born? Also, nursing bras are really expensive and sometimes hard to find, so I couldn’t stack up on a whole bunch, just to be safe. You will want the softest material known to (wo)man in your nursing bra. Your boobs change size all through the day, so you need something that will allow for this (no padding and no wires). I found roughly two sizes up in each department, bust and cup, worked for me. You may think your boobs can’t get any bigger than when you are pregnant, but the body (and breast tissue) is a wonderful thing. Oh, and if you do happen to buy a bra that’s a bit tight in the bust these are a godsend. I picked them up on ebay for a euro.
4) Breast. Feeding. Cover. It will bring you freedom. It will save your long lost modesty. It will allow you to breastfeed wherever, whenever, without even thinking about it. There’s an amazing company called Udder Covers that often offer breast feeding covers for free – you just pay postage. I bought mine while I was pregnant, even though I wasn’t sure if breastfeeding was going to work for me. I swear, the cover made it work for me. The cover lets you sit comfortably among all those visitors who arrive in the early days, cluster feeding away and when you’re up to it, get out and about anywhere and feed your baby in peace.
5) Breast pump and pots. It can be difficult to pump milk when you’re breastfeeding a newborn. They may be feeding every two hours, and it can take at least half an hour to get a few mls of milk, so how exactly are you supposed to fit it in? Pumping can also interfere with your supply, so you need to be careful. I found pumping at night worked for me. And, when you do get to fit it in, those ounces will be your ticket to freedom. I used to freeze little 100ml pots, so that there was always a supply for whenever I needed.
6) Seek out the professionals. Herfamily.ie recommended spending money on a breast-feeding course or lactation consultant, but there is information available for free. If you can track down the hospital’s lactation consultant, they will offer invaluable advice about your technique, and they’ll probably boost your confidence and tell you you’re doing great. Local breast feeding groups offer professional support and advice too, and even though I never really took to the one I attended, the consultants there were super. What did work for me was phone support; both at the hospital I’d attended and a Cuidiu counsellor when I was much further down the track and had low supply. Keep their numbers handy; you’ll never know when you need them.